Derbyshire Sewing Bees Take To The Catwalk At David Nieper

Award ceremony at David Nieper rewards fashion and sewing talent in a bid to pass on fashion manufacturing skills

Rebecca Rawson aged 13 from Mill Hill School in Ripley, Megan Saxton and Kinga Graczyk both aged 14 from Heanor Gate Science College and Euan Brailsford, aged only 5 from Copthorpe Community School in Alfreton, have their fashion futures sewn up after winning Gold, Silver and Bronze awards at David Nieper’s own Junior version of the Great British Sewing Bee.

All the winners were presented with their trophies during a special awards ceremony at David Nieper.  The event was attended by more than 180 students, aged five to 16, teachers, parents and even grandparents who toured the Alfreton-based fashion house and spent time learning sewing skills showcased by David Nieper staff.

Now in its third year, the Fashion for Free! competition run by David Nieper, challenged Derbyshire school pupils to design and create a wearable garment, hat, bag or belt following the ‘bee’ style theme.  Using only recycled materials and incorporating sewing skills such as embroidery and threadwork, the winning students took to the David Nieper factory floor as an improvised catwalk to show-off their creations.

Students from schools, including Leys Junior School, Tibshelf Townend Junior School and Belper School also received highly commended certificates for their creations.

Christopher Nieper, managing director of David Nieper, said: “Because we design and make all our women’s fashion here in Derbyshire, we need to encourage young people into the industry.  This competition is all about passing on skills to the next generation, and with the outstanding talent seen here today, we have a very promising and skilled workforce of the future.”

According to the British Fashion Council, over 60% of workers in the textiles and manufacturing sectors are over the age of 40 and the sector is facing an uphill struggle to find new recruits who possess the necessary fashion manufacturing skills.

David Nieper has taken the issue into its own hands, introducing competitions, paid internships and a fashion design scholarship, to highlight job opportunities in the industry and encourage younger people to learn from experienced hands.

Fashion For Free Sewing Bee Winners 2013

Left to right: Rebecca Rawson, Gold Winner, Mill Hill Primary School with Mr David Nieper.  Heanor Gate Silver Winning Entry, shown by Mandy at David Nieper. Euan Brailsford, Copthorpe Community School .